Influencer marketing centres around the audience, it’s about influencers building and maintaining a personable relationship with their audience and brands leveraging this relationship to get the word out about their product.
Once the trust of the audience is gone, it is very difficult for the influencer to recover it. Thus the need to be transparent about which posts are sponsored.
The advertising watch dogs are cracking down on influencers who try to hide which posts are paid for and which are their true unbiased recommendations, especially after the recent fiasco of the Fyre Festival.
So in this still very sketchy landscape, when should you #Ad and can it actually benefit your brand to be open about sponsorships.
The emphasis for disclosure is usually entirely left to the influencer, you could however suggest in your brief or during negotiations that you want it made public that the video is sponsored.
With the closing in of advertising watchdogs it is advisable for an influencer to always state when payment has been exchanged for a post.
This could be done in an obvious way in the post, for example, a statement at the beginning of a YouTube video saying “this video is sponsored by…” or words to that effect, or it can be done more subtlety with hashtags or within the content description.
While the onus is on the influencer to state if the content is sponsored, it can be beneficial for brands to have the communication with the audience open even though it seems contradictory to the nature of influencer marketing.
Namely this relates back to trust, the cornerstone of influencer marketing.
If the audience trusts what the personality they are watching says, then they are influenced to follow their recommendations, in our case to follow through on a call to action.
But trust is a fickle thing, if the influencer appears to their audience to have ‘sold out’ by doing too many product placements they will loose some of their audience and damage the trust of others.
Thus the temptation of not disclosing sponsorships.
However, this doesn’t do them any favours in the long run. Nothing kills the relationship with the audience faster than a cover up, and hence how brands are affected too.
If you are a brand and your influencer does not disclose the sponsorship, your audience – the target customers you’re trying to reach – might well be able to sniff it out anyway. When this happens, we tend to see quite negative comments, no only directed to the influencer but to the brand as well. It has damaged the trust of the audience for both influencer and brand.
On the flipside, disclosing the sponsorship might loose you a few views (the better integrated the placement into the content, the fewer this will be) but at least will keep the integrity of the influencer and trust that your brand is not trying to pull a fast one.
Trust is crucial in influencer marketing, and for there to be trust a certain level of transparency is required, especially in an age where target customers are becoming more suspicious of the intention of online content.